Tired, I am so tired. The last time I set this long was the time I flew from Antarctica to California as a passenger on a cargo plane. On second thought that was only 48 hours of almost continual sitting. This week has far passed the 48 total!
However, even though I am tired, I am also thankful. I am thankful that this is required of those who would serve in our denomination. I am glad it is this extensive and intensive. I do feel blessed to have been a part of this week of listening and learning.
When we are weary and tired we have an opportunity to face our weaknesses. When we face our weaknesses we have the opportunity to realize just how much we need God to be our strength. There was another student who gave us all wrist bands. These bands state: God is big enough.
God is big enough to meet any need we might have. He is big enough to care our pains, our fears, our doubts, our angers, and any other weakness. It is God’s “big-ness” that ultimately is our strength. Sometimes we need to experience weakness to be reminded of this.
A small child often continually asks, why. They do this because they want to understand. They want to learn. If they ask you why it means they believe you know more than they do and believe you can help them with answers.
Too often, as we grow older, we lose that willingness to ask why. Maybe we feel that if we ask why we are showing our ignorance. Maybe we feel embarrassed because we believe we should know. Maybe we have been discouraged in asking or believe there may be consequences for our asking.
There are many things we do in church out of ritual. Ritual is not a bad thing unless it is done out of ignorance. Sometimes there are things we need to change. However, if we push for change and people do not understand why there most likely will be conflict.
I believe we live in a time in which we need to make it OK to ask the question why frequently and without fear. I believe it is a question that we need to adopt for everything we do in the church. It believe it is a question we must ask and not assume people know the answer. I know it is a question I am going to strive to ask myself on a daily basis. Why do we do what we do. I believe the Holy Spirit will help provide the answer.
I will spend this week in a learning environment. God has blessed me the the opportunity to gather with others who have received the call of God in their life to the office of clergy. I will join with others in a learning experience gear toward helping us serve in the Christian heritage God has lead us. I have no doubt God will bless me through this.
Why does God call some people to be ministers? Why does he pick who he picks? This is one of God’s mysteries we will only understand when we enter into the time beyond the current veil. It is not because we are better people. It is not because we are superior in any way. God picks who he picks for his particular reasons. It is not a profession one can chose. It is an awesome responsibility and one in which God will hold the minister accountable not just for his own life, but for the lives of others as well.
I am grateful our denomination (and I now call it ours because I have been so wonderfully accepted) for being so strict about this training. It is needed now more than ever. I will work to glean what I can from this time.
The most amazing thing happened Monday night. We had 6 young people come to our youth night. This is not what was amazing. What was amazing is that we spent 70 minutes in a Bible study that went by so quickly and had so much participation that we didn’t have time for games AND NO ONE CARED!
We did not not feed them. We did not entertain them. We studied with them and they had some excellent insights to share. What was the topic? Learning how to share your faith using Romans 6:23. We only got as far as BEGINNING the discussion on the seventh word in that verse. I was blessed.
Yes, we are going to take the youth on a trip to Six Flags. Yes, they know if they attend Bible study they get a discount, however, I don’t think that was the reason the study was so good and so inspiring. I believe it is because there are some young people in this community who really want to know more about the Lord.
Now not all these kids will come to our morning worship. Some go to other churches and I will not try to get them to switch. Some of them will come to our church and join with our family of faith. Some of them are already part of our family. I believe (if the study and prayer afterward are any indication) that they will be bringing their friends.
Oh, by the way, I do not believe that young people are the church of the future. I believe they are the church of today.
I am reading a book in which the author makes the statement (paraphrased): a pastor could do well spending his whole life serving smaller churches.
I would add to this the following: a pastor can be happy, loved, and spiritually blessed spending his life in the service of a small church family.
In an age where so many “churches” have focused on finding a marketing “niche” in order to feel successful it is quite refreshing and a real blessing to find a family of faith that is confident in their identity as a smaller church. It is not that they are against growing. They do want to grow and have. They reach out and are supportive of the new members God sends their way. They want to be effective and efficient in their service to their Lord. However, they understand that in a town of only a few thousand people, they will not be a mega-church nor do they feel they must “market” themselves in order to carry out the mandates of our Lord.
I am thankful for the church I now serve. It is a joy to watch them as they greet one another on a Sunday morning. They know each other’s names. When a visitor is present, they introduce themselves and take an honest interest in the individual. In this church they celebrate each other’s gifts and seek to give their best of themselves. When church ends, the vast majority do not hurry out the door, but they stay and linger and enjoy each other’s presence.
As a pastor, this is a new experience for me. It is a blessing to be with such a people. It is a blessing to serve a small church with a big heart!